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This blog is simply meant to bring God the glory; no more and no less. I'd love to hear from you! Comments, questions, conversation. rebecca.labriola@gmail.com

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A life well lived. A cross well carried. Wednesday June 22, 2011.

A childhood friend of mine died this weekend.
She was 19.
She had cancer for the past 4 years.
It's so unreal to me.
It is in moments like these when we are called to trust in His plan.
To believe He uses the sorrow and the sadness for His glory.
To know that He knows exactly what He is doing.

Looking back on growing up with Diana the things I remember most clearly about her were her infectious laugh, her sweet personality, and her respect towards others. 
Regardless of the fact that we were about 7 years old, Diana made sure to address my parents as Mr. or Mrs. LaBriola. The last name LaBriola is a mouthful for any child but Diana made sure to use that mouthful of a last name whenever addressing my parents.
She was always sure to include everyone in the games we would play at recess. 
Often times she would be the leader and distribute the parts we were to play in the game but it was always done in a generous manner and with a sweet spirit. 
Her laugh, my goodness when she laughed we could not help but all bust up laughing. 
There was just something about her laugh.
There was something about Diana in general.
There was always something special.

Diana was special. 
She was diagnosed with a type of cancer that would eventually spread throughout her body.
But that did not bring her spirits down. 
In fact her joyful spirit still soared. 
Her faith strengthened.
And the thing that just blew me away was her acceptance of her cancer.
Diana believed that her cancer was the cross that the Lord had given her. 
What faith.
What an incredible person.
Her comment about her cancer being her cross stunned me.
I was not stunned or shocked because it was out of character for Diana;
I was stunned to see how greatly I fail in picking up the cross that He has given me and following Him. 

We are called to pick up our crosses and follow Him.
We are each given a cross to carry to better understand the life of our Savior and to learn to follow Him.
The crosses we are given may change throughout our life.
They may be big.
They could be small.
We may be given one cross
or we may be given a couple crosses to carry. 

If I could carry my cross half as well as Diana did, I would be a different person. 
It is in picking up our cross that we learn to lay down our lives for Him 
and it is in surrendering to Him that we find true freedom.
In our humanness we do not understand the irony.
We struggle to understand that in giving of ourselves completely to Him,
it is then that we become free.

Instead of pushing our crosses aside
or carrying our crosses with complaints,
what would happen if we gracefully and joyfully picked up our cross?
What would have happened if our Lord picked up His cross and complained all the way to Calvery? Or if He just ignored His calling to pick up His cross?
The story, the greatest love story of all time, would be completely different. 
Just as with our lives, if we picked up our cross the way the Christ did, our story would be different.
Each of our stories would be different.
We would be different.
The world would be different.
We could begin to change the world if we could learn to pick up our cross with grace and joy.
One of the things I learned when we moved to Texas was this- 
there is a difference between doing what God asks of you and doing it with grace.
That is one of the most important things I have learned on this journey of life. 
There is a difference between doing it and doing it with grace. 
The very next moment you are called to pick up your cross, 
take a moment to figure out how you can do so with grace.
Bring Christ into every part of your life, especially the hardest parts, the crosses.
If anyone understands, it is Him.
It is He who loves you
and it is He who is strong enough to give you the strength to pick up your cross and to follow Him.
Follow Him, for His burden is easy and His load is light.

Diana gracefully picked up her cross and followed Him and by His grace she will see Him face-to-face.
May we all be graced with the same undying faith that Diana exemplified so well.
Pick up your cross.
Follow Him.
Make the choice: with grace or without?

Please pray for the repose of Diana's soul as well as for the comfort, peace, and strength of her family. Thank you.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Our Need for Love. Tuesday June 14, 2011.

I feel pretty confident in saying that most every preteen and teenage girl knows every single word to Bruno Mars' song, Just the Way You Are.
There is a reason for this.
The reason is beyond the dreamy fantasy that Bruno will one day marry them, however, the star that they are going to marry ironically changes every couple of days.
The reason that they know every word is because the song strings out the words that every girl wants to hear.
The words that every girl was created to hear.
"When I see your face there's not a thing that I would change, cause you're amazing just the way you are."
This is the never ending cry of the heart of every girl, of every woman.
Girls don't know the lyrics because it is a popular song.
Girls don't know the lyrics because they are in love with Bruno Mars.
Girls don't know the lyrics because their friends listen to the song.
They know every single word because the cry of their heart is to be thought of as amazing but more importantly to be LOVED.
They desired to be loved.
Among many things, we were made to love and be loved.

In our society we are so focused on the self.
What can we do to earn more money or make ourselves look better?
But what would happen if we took the time to focus on someone else and tell them that they were loved?
Oh, how our world would change.
I am not just talking about teenage girls either.
There are so many adults who yearn to be loved.
Their loud boastful personality or their complete shyness and lack of self confidence just screaming out, "Please, somebody love me!"

This very day, what can you do to help sooth someone's cry for love?
Bring them to the cross.
It is there, at the foot of the cross that we can know we are truly loved.
Carry your own heavy heart that is screaming for love to the foot of the cross.  
Love was nailed to the cross.
Love saved the world.
God is Love.
Love is eager to love you.
He is far more fulfilling than a song or drugs or money or power.
There is a God-shaped hole in each of our hearts.
We were all born with this hole and we all try to fill it with things of the world and we all fail.
We fail miserably.
Yet we try time and time again to fill that hole with the world.
We must stop.
We all must stop.

If you have ever tried to teach a baby or toddler how to do a puzzle, it can become somewhat frustrating. We of course know that the round hippo does not fit in the slot for the tall giraffe. To us, it is mind boggling that a child would not understand what shape goes where.

How similar. If our hearts are puzzles and we have only ONE missing piece, it should be so simple to figure out what shaped piece goes there.
It is the God shape that belongs there and yet we so often fail to see that.
How many times is God right there saying, "Here! I am RIGHT here. I am the missing piece!"
And how many times we, in turn reply, "oh hey, not right now God. I'll, uh, pray later."
And in the inside we are losing it and breaking apart and sill wondering why.
He wants to love you.

What is keeping you from letting Him love you?
Get rid of it.
Let Him love you.
Let you heart be whole.
Let the hole in your heart be filled.
There is only one thing, one person that can fill the God-shaped whole, just like a puzzle.
Let God play His part.
Let Him fill His puzzle piece; He will do so with a beaming smile and a generous love.
Let the hole in your heart be whole.
Let Him love you.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Gifts and Talents. Monday June 6, 2011.

We each have a gift.
A gift given to us from the Father.
That gift is different for each person.
When we use our gifts- we help the Church grow and thrive.

He gave us a gift.
When we use that gift- we are gifts to HIM.
We are gifts to the Church.

I think we often get wrapped up in what others are doing.
Maybe someone has a talent that we wish we had.
We wish we could play an instrument in the choir, or we wish we had the courage to lector, or the ability to sing, or the outgoing personality to be a greeter.
Instead of dwelling on the gifts or talents that we might not have; take a firm grip on the gifts that we are blessed with!

We were created in His image and likeness.
We are His.
He has molded and shaped to be who He has created us to be.
We may not agree with that gifts He has given us or has not given us
but we must trust that He knows exactly what He is doing.

One person may be given the talent of singing, while another has the gift of being incredibly welcoming and helpful, and another person’s gift is simply being present at Mass and praying for those in attendance.
Each person’s gift differs.
Each person is truly blessed to have a gift of their own.
What is your gift?
How can you give glory to God?
How can you help the Church thrive by the power of the Lord?

I was at a Matt Maher concert one year and he was giving a small speaking introduction before playing a song. He was thinking as he was talking and the words that spilled out have stuck with me ever since. He said, “Everyone has talents and gifts and when we use them, God goes mad….with LOVE.”
Going mad with love.
Going crazy with love.
We can make God go crazy with love!
He is so insanely in love with us.
And then when we make proper use of the talents He has given us?!
Goodness, His love for us continues to grow inexpressibly.
His love is never-ending.
How blest are we to make Him go mad?
Mad with LOVE.
Love for us.

God designed us so perfectly.
He created us to know, love, and serve Him.
What better way to serve Him than make use of the gift or talent He has so graciously given each of us?
Through our service to Him we will get to know Him better
And learn to love Him even more deeply.

The Church is many things- it is an ongoing project.
If you take a second to think of a project being completed and completed well,
there must be some sort of order to make the completion successful.
If a group of people was building a house; they would each be required to have a part in the building otherwise the house would not be completed properly.
Each person must put in their all to their individual project to complete the house properly as a group.

We, the community, through the Lord, make up the Church.
Our job is to know, love, and serve Him, live our lives to glorify Him, God-willing obtain heaven and help others to do the same.
If we are to complete this mission given to us by Christ, then we must each do our part.
We must each make use of the talents and gifts He has blessed us with.
Alone we can do nothing.
Each of us, with Him as our guide, working together, can enliven the Church.

Pray to Him.
Ask Him to show you your talent.
Ask Him how to best use your talent.
Ask Him for the grace to draw others in by your talent, through Him.
Tell Him you desire to truly know Him, to wholeheartedly love Him, and to selflessly serve Him.
Ask Him to help you do so.
Tell Him you love Him.
He loves YOU ever so deeply.
Thank Him for the talents and gifts He has blessed you with, regardless of how you feel about them or how you feel about others’ talents.
Ask Him to bless you with a sense of peace.

Your talent is amazing.
It is special.
You are special.
You are loved.
He loves you.
Love Him back.
Use your talent.
Bring others to Him,
through Him.

We were created by You, Lord for some outstanding and seemingly unworthy things. 
Help us to make use of the talents You have given us only to bring glory and fame to Your beautiful and glorious name. Amen.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Our Father and the Hail Mary. Wednesday June 1, 2011.

Ever since I was little, I’ve always wondered why the Hail Mary is prayed around ten times more than the Our Father during the Rosary.  When I was younger I would almost become concerned with how this question could be answered.  I thought that it seemed almost prideful that Mary would want a prayer to be prayed to Her so many more times than a prayer prayed to Her Son but I knew that couldn’t be the case. I never came up with a good enough answer and just accepted it as is.  Well, during the homily that Fr. Charbel gave on Mothers’ day, he gave a brilliant answer to this question.

The answer is in the content of the prayers themselves. 

Our Father, Who art in heaven
Hallowed be Thy Name;
Thy kingdom come,
Thy will be done,
on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us this day our daily bread,
and forgive us our trespasses,
as we forgive those who trespass against us;
and lead us not into temptation,
but deliver us from evil. Amen.

The Our Father is a prayer of things to be, of things to come.

Holy be Your name.
Your kingdom come.
And Your will be done.
Bless us with Yourself, our daily bread.
Forgive us of our sins, as we forgive those who have sinned against us.
Keep us from temptation and evil.

Each and every line of the Our Father will come, will be done-
the moment we enter heaven.
We will truly know the definition of the word holy
And we will clearly see why and how it is applied to the Father.
His will for us will be complete.
We will be with Him every moment and therefore not in need of the tangible Eucharist.
We will be forgiven of our sins and will hold nothing against those who did us wrong.
We can no longer be tempted in heaven
And we will have clearly been kept from evil.

The Our Father is a prayer of hope.
It is a prayer of the things yet to come.
It is a plea of the helpless crying out for help.
He can do nothing but help us to the end that we are destined for.
He will answer the cries of the helpless.
The cries and pleas of Our Father will be answered.

The Hail Mary is quite different.
It is not a prayer of the helpless.
It is not a cry for better things.
It is a prayer of praise.

Hail Mary, full of grace.
Our Lord is with thee.
Blessed art thou among women,
and blessed is the fruit of thy womb,
Holy Mary, Mother of God,
pray for us sinners,
now and at the hour of our death.

Mary, You who are completely filled will with grace, we greet You.
The Lord is with You.
Blessed, holy, are You among women.
The fruit of Your womb, Your Son, Jesus, He is also Holy.
Mother of God.
Pray for us.
We are sinners.
Pray for us now and at the hour of our death.

Heaven will be full of praises.
Pleas will no longer be a necessity.

And there’s the answer;
the answer to the question that has been pondered over by many.

The Our Father will no longer need to be prayed in heaven.
We will be with Our Lord, His Mother, and the saints.
We will no longer need to ask for anything or make any requests or cry for mercy.
We will be with Him.
All of our needs will be met beyond what any of us could imagine.

But the Hail Mary, the prayer of complete praise and honor, will forever ring.
Praise of Mary will never cease.
Even more so in heaven we will continue to boldly proclaim these praises.

The answer to this question brings hope to many.
It is a joy and a relief to know that there will be a day when pleas will no longer be necessary.
There will be a day when our only duty will be to praise.
Praise the Father, praise the Son, praise the Spirit.
No longer will we need to hope for a better life, or for peace, or for forgiveness.
We will be in the presence of peace and mercy.
The day of no more pleas and continuous praise will come.

Until the day that we may be blessed enough to enter heaven,
Lord please help us to praise You and Your Mother who are so worthy of all praise
and please help us to pray the Our Father with fervor and hope that one day each of those pleas may be fulfilled.